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There&#8217;s only one right order to read the <i>Narnia</i> books POST

There’s only one right order to read the Narnia books

I consider the chronological numbering system a travesty, since I maintain that the only right way to discover the Narnian world is the way Lewis “discovered” it.

Does the priest in <em>Calvary</em> recommend mortal sin? POST

Does the priest in Calvary recommend mortal sin?

Calvary is full of depraved, troubled characters, and in trying to minister to them Fr. Lavelle sometimes gets his hands dirty. Does he cross moral lines?

Why &#8220;Star Trek&#8221; &#8212; and Mr. Spock &#8212; matter ARTICLE

Why “Star Trek” — and Mr. Spock — matter

The ongoing cultural influence of the “Star Trek” phenomenon is incalculable, and Leonard Nimoy’s contributions are an immense part of that. Nimoy wasn’t just an actor doing a job; in a real sense he was a co-creator who helped to define his character in many ways.

Watership Down REVIEW

Watership Down (1978)

Newly remastered for Blu-ray and DVD, the classic animated adaptation of Richard Adams’ beloved tale is available from Criterion.

Narnian spirit: C. S. Lewis&#8217; religious themes in the books, the films &#8212; and any films to come ARTICLE

Narnian spirit: C. S. Lewis’ religious themes in the books, the films — and any films to come

With a new Blu-ray edition of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader available March 3, here’s a look back at the series so far … and a look ahead.

2014: More lists POST

2014: More lists

Looking over the eight lists below plus my own top 10, three films stand above the rest — two starring Marion Cotillard.

The Overnighters REVIEW

The Overnighters (2014)

Jesse Moss’s The Overnighters is an existentially probing documentary with more layers than a twisty Hollywood thriller, at turns inspiring, challenging, sobering and finally devastating.

POST

Welcome to the 15th anniversary Decent Films redesign!

This is the first completely new Decent Films in ten years. It’s also the first version ever that feels more or less complete to me. Not that there aren’t still bugs and tweaks to be addressed — and not that I wasn’t thrilled about the 2010 (and 2005) iterations when they were new.

The truth behind one of Netflix&#8217;s most popular shows ARTICLE

The truth behind one of Netflix’s most popular shows

Want to know the truth behind the “Devil’s Bible”? Or the Dead Sea Scrolls? How about one of the Old Testament’s two famous arks? Curious about UFOs, Bigfoot or the Bermuda Triangle?

Guardian Devils? Daredevil and Catholic guilt, superhero style ARTICLE

Guardian Devils? Daredevil and Catholic guilt, superhero style

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” says Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer turned masked hero in the first line of the new trailer for Netflix’s upcoming Marvel Comics superhero series “Daredevil.”

Boyhood [video] POST

Boyhood [video] (2014)

I’m not sure we get to know any characters in all of cinema quite the way we get to know Mason Evans, Jr. and his family.

Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) [video] POST

Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) [video] (2014)

Cinematically, Birdman is sort of an anti-Boyhood, at least with respect to how they each play with time. That’s not necessarily to pit them against one another, although at the end of the day my feeling is that Boyhood tells me about life, whereas Birdman only tells me about Alejandro Iñárritu.

Selma [video] POST

Selma [video]

Very few historical films so successfully deconstruct the Great Man view of history while nevertheless offering a credible portrait of a leader who was, in fact, a great man.

My Top 10 Favorite Movie Love Stories That Don&#8217;t Show Up on Romantic Movie Lists ARTICLE

My Top 10 Favorite Movie Love Stories That Don’t Show Up on Romantic Movie Lists

No Jane Austen or Shakespeare. No Hepburn or Cary Grant, Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks. No Say Anything or Jerry Maguire, no City Lights or Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Nothing against any of the above, but you don’t need me to tout them. Instead, here are ten films you might not find on other lists of movie romances.

The easygoing Catholicism of <i>Return to Me</i> ARTICLE

The easygoing Catholicism of Return to Me

Return to Me has an easygoing Catholic vibe akin, but not identical, to Golden Age Hollywood piety; in fact, the movie blends nostalgia and irreverence for the Catholic Hollywood of Bing Crosby’s era.

<i>Fantasia</i>: The Sistine Chapel of Disney animation ARTICLE

Fantasia: The Sistine Chapel of Disney animation

Among a few Disney films deserving of the title “masterpiece,” Fantasia remains a unique achievement.

2014: The Year in Reviews ARTICLE

2014: The Year in Reviews

The quest for justice and harmony echoed through the best films of 2014, playing out in various arenas: social, domestic and spiritual.

Raking through the ashes of unbelief: Woody Allen&#8217;s lost spark ARTICLE

Raking through the ashes of unbelief: Woody Allen’s lost spark

Woody Allen keeps telling us God is dead, but he also keeps compulsively burying him.

The Church on screen in 2014: Not a bad year for Catholics ARTICLE

The Church on screen in 2014: Not a bad year for Catholics

By mid-year I would have predicted that Mendoza would surely prove to be the best big-screen priest of 2014 — but Brendan Gleeson’s Rev. Lavelle in John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary proved me wrong.

Christmas Day is over &#8230; time to watch Christmas movies! ARTICLE

Christmas Day is over … time to watch Christmas movies!

What can Catholics do to keep things Christmasy until mid-January? Among other things, I suggest keeping the tree and the lights lit until at least January 6, if not the following Sunday — and saving the Christmas movies till after Christmas day.

The trouble with Christmas movies ARTICLE

The trouble with Christmas movies

“What are your favorite Christmas movies?” As a Catholic film critic, I get this question several times every December, often on the air or via social media. The question, alas, touches on a sore subject for me.

Selma REVIEW

Selma (2014)

Selma achieves something few historical films do: It captures a sense of events unfolding in the present tense, in a political and cultural climate as complex, multifaceted and undetermined as the times we live in.

Unbroken REVIEW

Unbroken (2014)

Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is an honorable movie about an inspiring true story. It is impeccably crafted, with a raft of remarkably talented people behind it. It is a celebration of the old-fashioned virtues of duty, grit, fortitude and honor. In the end, it tips its hat to faith, forgiveness and reconciliation. The film I just described is a film that, on paper, I should love.

Annie [video] POST

Annie [video] (2014)

I want to say I love the idea for Little Orphan Hushpuppy … but I’m not convinced there’s actually an idea here.

How <i>The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies</i> betrays Tolkien&#8217;s Catholic themes &#8212; and his religious fans ARTICLE

How The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies betrays Tolkien’s Catholic themes — and his religious fans

Changes like these are sadly typical of the Hobbit prequel trilogy, which is far cruder and less sensitive to the charm and beauty of its source material than the Lord of the Rings films were. As bad as Christopher Tolkien’s fears in 2012 about The Hobbit films might have been, the reality is worse.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [video] POST

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [video]

“Will you follow me … one last time?” Well, if you promise it’s the last time.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies REVIEW

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

What I can say is that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (a title strangely stuffed with too many the’s, at a time when movie titles often dispense with articles) includes — amid overinflated spectacle and cynical fan service — some of the best stuff of any of this prequel trilogy.

Exodus: Gods and Kings [video] POST

Exodus: Gods and Kings [video] (2014)

The director of Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood takes on the story of Moses.

<i>Exodus: Gods and Kings</i>: Theological reflections ARTICLE

Exodus: Gods and Kings: Theological reflections

It’s a movie with many problems, like most of Scott’s recent epics (Prometheus, Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven), but Scott has a better story to work with here and adds something of value to the world of Bible cinema.

Interview: <i>Exodus: Gods and Kings</i> filmmakers Ridley Scott, Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton ARTICLE

Interview: Exodus: Gods and Kings filmmakers Ridley Scott, Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton

Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings (in theaters Dec. 12) is the year’s second major Old Testament epic from a director who is not a believer — but don’t get Scott started on Noah’s rock-monster Watchers.